The most famous executioners

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This dreadful profession is essential. Cinema gives us images of a naked man with a masked face.

In life, everything is completely different. The executioners are amazing and mysterious people, and the story will go about the most famous people of this profession.

Albert Pierrepoint (1905-1992). In the photographs, this person usually smiles, nothing says that this person took the life of at least 400 people. The Englishman grew up in an unusual family - his father and uncle were executioners. Henry Pierrepoint himself chose this profession and after repeated requests he was hired. For 9 years of service, Albert's father hanged 105 people. All this time, the man kept a diary, where he wrote down the details of the execution. This book was read by the growing Albert. Already at the age of 11, in a school essay, the boy wrote that he dreamed of following in the footsteps of his father. This desire was understandable - a rare profession would make it possible to stand out from the faceless crowd. The story of his father made a great impression, who told about the respect with which his father was treated. Albert made several applications until he was accepted into the state in a London prison in 1931. The career of the young executioner developed rapidly. A special burden on the executioner fell during the war years and after its end. For 6-7 years he had to hang 200 war criminals. Pierrepoint achieved real mastery - the entire procedure, from the prisoner's march from his cell to pressing the lever, took the executioner up to 12 seconds. I must say that this position was quite lucrative. The executioner was paid piece-rate - at first 10, and then 15 pounds per execution. Pierrepoint's work during the war brought him good capital; he was even able to buy a pub in Manchester. Interestingly, in England it is believed that the identity of the executioner should be hidden, but Pierrepoint was declassified by journalists. After retiring in 1956, Albert sold his story of his life to the Sunday newspaper for an impressive £ 400,000. The executioner's story served as the basis for many notes and even a documentary. Pierrepoint became a celebrity interviewee. Interestingly, he himself spoke out in favor of the abolition of the death penalty, since in the eyes of criminals he did not see the fear of death.

Fernand Meyssonnier (1931-2008). And this French executioner had a family profession. My father was engaged in killing people for the sake of profit and benefit. After all, it allowed him to travel for free, earn good money, possess military weapons and even financial benefits. For the first time, Fernand joined the bloody work at the age of 16. He recalled that when a person was executed with the help of a guillotine, blood spattered, like from a glass, 2-3 meters. Fate decreed that a fan of theater and ballets Meyssonnier was forced to become an executioner, unofficially helping his father. In 1958, Fernand was appointed first assistant to the executioner, serving in a bloody position until 1961. Executions peaked in 1953-1957. Then the liberation movement in Algeria gave the executioners many convicts. During this time alone, Meyssonnier executed more than 200 rebels. Father and son tried to do their job as quickly as possible so as not to prolong the torment of the doomed. The executioner scolded American colleagues who deliberately delay the ceremony. Fernand recalled that the guillotine is the most painless execution. The executioner also became famous for the fact that he managed to catch his head, preventing it from falling. It happened that after the execution, Fernand found himself in blood from head to toe, shocking the guards. After retiring, the executioner shared his memories and even demonstrated the tool of his labor. Model "48" cut badly, I had to help with my hands. In addition, the convicts often pulled their heads into their shoulders, which prevented a quick execution. Meyssonnier says that he does not feel any remorse, as he was simply the punishing hand of Justice.

Richard Brandon. The historical fact is the stay of this man at the post of executioner in London in 1649. Many sources say that it was he who carried out the death sentence imposed on King Charles I. Richard's father, Gregory Brandon, was also an executioner, sharing his skill with the heir. Historians come across evidence that the family descended from an illegitimate descendant of the Duke of Sufflek. Father and son have earned a sad reputation in London. In the city even a sad jargon appeared - "Gregory trees". So the people began to call the gallows. And the very name Gregory became a household name, meaning the executioner. The Brandons gave their profession another nickname - "squire". The fact is that with their service they achieved the right to the coat of arms and the title of Esquire, which later went to descendants. Little is known about the execution of the king. It was believed that Richard refused to do this, but he could well have been forced to change his mind by force. After Brandon's death, a small document was released that told the secrets of his profession. So, for each execution, the executioner received 30 pounds, and in half a crown. Brandon's first victim was the Earl of Strafford.

John Ketch. This executioner received his notoriety during the reign of King Charles II. The Englishman had Irish roots. It is believed that he took office in 1663, although the first mention of his name dates back to 1678. Then a miniature was drawn in the newspaper in which Ketch offered a kind of cure for rebellion. The fact is that the 80s of the 17th century were marked by riots. Therefore, there were quite a few executions, the executioner did not sit idle for a long time. Anthony Wood's autobiography contains a passage about the hanging of Stephen College. The author tells how the already dead body was removed, and then quartered and burned by an executioner named Ketch. This man stood out even among his colleagues with excessive cruelty, and sometimes even strange awkwardness. For example, the famous rebel Lord William Russell was executed in a rather sloppy manner. The executioner even had to officially apologize, explaining that he was distracted just before the blow. And the suicide bomber lay down unsuccessfully on the block. The story goes that Ketch often inflicted painful, but not fatal blows on the victim, causing him to suffer. Either the executioner was really awkward, or he was a sophisticated sadist. The latter option seemed to the common people the most truthful. As a result, on July 15, 1685, James Scott, Duke of Monmouth, paid his executioner 6 guineas to execute him in a quality manner. After the action, Ketch was guaranteed an additional reward. However, John blundered - even in three blows he could not separate his head. The crowd became enraged, to which the executioner generally refused to continue what he had begun. The sheriff forced Ketch to complete the execution and two more blows finally killed the unfortunate rebel. But even after that, the head remained on the body, the executioner had to cut it off with a knife. Such cruelty and unprofessionalism angered numerous spectators - Ketch was taken away from the chopping block under guard. The cruel executioner died in 1686, and his name became a household name for people of this profession. Ketch's name was mentioned by many writers, including Dickens himself.

Giovanni Bugatti (1780-1865). This man devoted his whole life to such an ignoble profession. As it turned out, the Papal Region had its own executioner. Bugatti worked in this position from 1796 to 1865, even earning the nickname "Master of Justice". Already at a ripe old age, the executioner was retired by Pope Pius IX, having appointed a monthly pension of 30 scant. Bugatti called his executions the execution of justice, while his own convicts were called patients. From 1796 to 1810, the executioner killed people with an ax, a wooden hammer, or with a gallows. In France, in those years, the guillotine became popular, this remedy also came to the Papal States. The executioner quickly mastered a new murder weapon. At the same time, the guillotine used was unusual - its blade was straight, and not beveled, as in France. Even the image of Bugatti remained in history - he was a plump and short man, well-dressed, childless, but married. In addition to his service, Giovanni, along with his wife, sold painted umbrellas and other souvenirs for tourists. The executioner's house was on a narrow street in the Trastevere area, on the western bank of the Tiber. Bugatti could leave this place solely for work. Such a measure was invented solely for his protection, if suddenly the relatives of the executed want to take revenge on the executioner. That is why the appearance of Bugatti on the Saint Angel Bridge, which separated his area from the main part of the city, told Rome that the execution would soon take place and it was time to get ready to watch this spectacle. Today the trappings of the famous executioner - his axes, guillotine and blood-splattered clothing can be seen in the Museum of Criminology in Via del Gonfalon.

Jules Henri Defourneau (1877-1951). This man came from an old family of executioners, rooted in the Middle Ages. Like other Frenchmen of this profession, Defourneau used the guillotine for his work. The first execution for the executioner took place in 1909, he acted as Anatole Deibler's assistant. When he died in 1939, hurrying to his 401st execution, Defourneau was appointed the country's chief executioner. It was Jules Henri who carried out the last public execution in the country on June 17, 1939. Then serial killer Eugene Weidmann was executed on the boulevard square in Versailles. Those events went down in history also because they were filmed from the windows of a private apartment. The executioner insisted that the execution take place in the afternoon. At this time, the crowd was having fun near the prison, music was playing, cafes were working. All this convinced the authorities that in the future the criminals should be executed behind closed doors and away from the eyes of curious citizens. During the Second World War, the executioner worked for the Vichy regime, he was forced to carry out executions of communists and members of the Resistance movement. Defurno went for it, but his assistants refused. The name of the executioner is associated with the first beheading of a woman since the 19th century. In 1943, the underground midwife Marie-Louise Giraud was executed, and she became the last woman officially killed by the state. After the war, the executioner became so fearful for his deeds that he fell into drunkenness. This even became the reason for the suicide of his son. So a difficult profession left its mark on a person's personal life. Defurno worked as an executioner almost until his death, balancing with difficulty on the brink of madness.

Clement Henri Sanson. The Sansons dynasty of Parisian executioners has served the state since 1688. Charles Henri became famous for the execution of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, as well as Danton. It was under him that the guillotine appeared in France. And his son executed Robespierre. The last representative of the dynasty was Clement Henri. He received his post in 1840, but his career in this post only lasted 7 years. The fact is that in those years there were practically no executions in Paris. And the executioner worked piece-rate, so his bloody profession did not bring him money. As a result, Clement Henri ran into so much debt that he even pledged his main tool - the guillotine. And as luck would have it, an order from the state for execution was immediately received. However, the usurer refused to give the unusual pledge without money. As a result, the hapless executioner was fired. But if it were not for this unfortunate case, then the professional dynasty could have existed for another hundred years - the death penalty in the country was abolished only in 1981. When the book "The Executioner's Notes" appeared in France, many attributed its creation to Henri Sanson. After all, the book told about the bloody era of the French Revolution and about Charles Henri Clement, who personally executed more than two thousand people. However, twenty years after the publication, it became known that the author is actually Honore de Balzac. That deception had a sequel. In 1863, other "Executioner's Notes" were published, in 6 volumes. The editor was the same Clement Henri Sanson. However, after 10 years, it turned out that this was also a fake. The executioner was found in the early 1860s by an enterprising journalist, who bought the right to publish on his behalf for 30 thousand francs.

Johann Reichgart (1893-1972). This German had many executioners in his family. Only by the middle of the 18th century in the family there were already 8 generations of people of this profession. Reichgart's career began in 1924, he was an executioner both under the Weimar Republic, which tried to instill democracy in Germany, and under the Third Reich. This man kept scrupulous records of all his executions, as a result, the researchers counted more than three thousand people. Most of them are in 1939-1945, when the executioner killed 2876 people. In recent times of war, Reichgart's main clients have become political prisoners and traitors. Antifascist students from the White Rose organization passed through the hands of the executioner. This execution, like others like her, took place on the Fallschwert guillotine. This short design was a reworked version of a French instrument. Reichgart had a fairly large amount of work, nevertheless, he strictly followed the rules for the execution of the sentence. The executioner wore the traditional attire for the people of his profession - a white shirt and gloves, a black jacket and bow tie, and a top hat. The duty of service threw Reichgart to various places in German-occupied Europe, including Austria and Poland. In order to do his job better, the executioner even asked the government to speed up his travels between execution sites. During one of these trips, Reichgart was surrounded by Allied troops and drowned his mobile guillotine in the river. After Germany's surrender, no charges were brought against the executioner; the occupation authorities even hired Johann to help execute the main Nazi criminals. Although Reichgart is considered one of the most prolific executioners, he strove to do his job with conscientiousness and speed, keeping the victim's suffering to a minimum. The executioner modified the design of the guillotine, which reduced the execution time to 3-4 seconds. The profession made Johann a lonely person, those around him shunned him. His wife left him, and his son committed suicide. In the 60s, Reichgart called for the return of the death penalty, arguing that the guillotine was best for this.

Franz Schmidt (1550-1635). This man went down in history as Master Franz. From 1573 to 1578 he worked as an executioner in the city of Bamberg, and then Nuremberg used his services until 1617. Only by leaving his job, Schmidt was able to get rid of the stigma of "dishonest". That was the name of prostitutes, beggars and executioners in those days. Later, shepherds, millers and actors began to fall into this group. The trouble was that this stigma extended to the entire family, making it difficult to join a guild or conduct a normal funeral. Master Franz himself turned out to be a real virtuoso of his craft. In those days, a variety of sentences were passed. The executioner killed with a rope and a sword, a broken wheel, burned and immersed in water. The wheel was intended for the most notorious villains, homosexuals and counterfeiters were burned at the stake. According to the judicial rules of the Holy Roman Empire, adopted in 1532, women-infanticides were executed by immersion in water. However, Schmidt himself, with the support of the clergy, succeeded in replacing this type of execution with cutting off the head with a sword. Throughout his career, the executioner kept a diary, in which he indicated the punishments he had committed over the years of work. Memories of 361 executions and 345 punishments remained on the pages. The executioner also flogged people, and also cut off ears and fingers.The first records contain very little information, but over the years Schmidt became more talkative, describing even the details of the convicted person's crime. The executioner's diary turned out to be a unique document in terms of both the history of law and social history. The original has not survived to this day, but the modern edition says about four handwritten copies. They were made in the XVII-XIX centuries, today they are kept in the libraries of Bamberg and Nuremberg. And for the first time they published Schmidt's diary back in 1801.

William Calcraft (1800-1879). The official number of executions of this executioner is unknown. However, researchers believe there were about 450 victims, of which about 35 were women. One of the most famous victims was François Courvoisier, who robbed and then killed his master lord. The execution took place on July 6, 1840. The executioner himself was born in the provincial town of Baddow, received the profession of a shoemaker. Colcraft worked as a night watchman. Selling meat pies near the prison, he met the executioner John Foxton of Newgate Prison. He gave William a job, Calcraft began to flog underage criminals for 10 shillings a week. When Foxton passed away in 1829, Calcraft was formally appointed as his successor. On April 13, 1829, just 9 days after taking office, the executioner first executed a woman, Esther Hibner. The criminal who was dubbed the "Evil Monster" by the press by starving her apprentice girl. Those events turned out to be so resonant that after the execution of the sentence, a large crowd scanned "Hurray for Calcraft!" For the first time since 1700, a married couple was executed, Mary and Frederick Manning suffered for the murder of his wife's wealthy lover. The last public execution took place on May 26, 1868, after which, according to English law, people were killed in private. And a little earlier, the executioner carried out the last public execution of a woman - 2 thousand people watched as the sentenced Francis Kidder fought in a noose for 2-3 minutes. It was Calcraft who became the first to be executed privately. The executioner's career spanned 45 years. Calcraft's contemporaries recall that he was incompetent in his field. Historians suggest that by delaying the execution and torture of the victim, the executioner simply entertained the public, which sometimes gathered up to 30 thousand people. Calcraft sometimes swayed on the legs of the victims, and sometimes even climbed onto his shoulders, trying to break his neck. As a result, the executioner was forcibly retired for incompetence. He was given a pension of 25 shillings. By old age, William turned out to be a sullen man with long hair and a beard and shabby black clothes.

Watch the video: Oliver Cromwell: Execution Of Charles I


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